Interview with A.J. Stewart Smith, the Class of 1909 Professor of Physics, emeritus, at Princeton University, who also served as the university vice president for the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. Smith begins the interview with an overview of his affiliations with SNOLAB, CERN, and Italian Nuclear and Particle Physics. He recaps the effects of the pandemic on experimental particle physics. Smith then summarizes his family history and his childhood in Canada, where he became interested in the sciences in high school. Smith recalls his undergraduate studies in physics at University of British Columbia, where he also earned a master’s degree, as well as his decision to pursue a PhD at Princeton. He describes working on the Princeton-Penn Accelerator with his advisor Pierre Piroue, and the subsequent offer of a fellowship at DESY working with Sam Ting on QED. Smith recounts his move back to Princeton to join the faculty, and he describes the “bipartisanship” between experimentalists and theorists at the time. He discusses the origins of the Chicago-Princeton collaboration at Fermilab, his involvement with E-787 experiment at Brookhaven, and his time as technical coordinator and spokesperson for the BaBar experiment. The interview concludes with Smith’s recollections of his time as Princeton’s first dean of research, as well as his reflections on times when theory has led experimentation, and vice versa.
Interview with Bruno Coppi, Professor of Physics Emeritus at MIT. Coppi recounts his childhood in Lombardi, Italy. He discusses his early interests in nuclear engineering and his graduate work in Milan on neutron transport theory. He explains the opportunities that led to his postgraduate appointment at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and his subsequent work at Stanford for his postdoctoral research in collision-less plasma. Coppi discusses his work at the Institute for Advanced Study where he interacted closely with Freeman Dyson, and he explains his decision to join the faculty at MIT where he could work with Bruno Rossi. He describes his collaborations in the Soviet Union with nuclear physicists, and he explains the sequencing of the Alcator program to the Ignitor program. Coppi describes the changes inherent in the AEC’s transformation into the DOE, and he explains the import of the Voyager 2 space mission. He describes his current interest in spontaneously rotating plasma and he reflects on why science is a humbling profession, even for geniuses. At the end of the interview, Coppi explains why the role of angular momentum remains profoundly mysterious, and why he is optimistic that he will continue to make contributions to the understanding of burning plasmas.
In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews John Galayda, Project Director for the NSTXU project at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. Galayda recounts his childhood in New Jersey and his undergraduate experience at Lehigh University. He discusses his research work as a graduate student at Rutgers, where he was interested in applying accelerator physics to energy supply solutions, and where he focused on quantum field theory. Galayda discusses his research at Brookhaven he worked on the NSLS and the Transverse Optical Klystron. He explains his decision to move to Argonne where he conducted research on X-ray beams, and he describes the factors that convinced him to join SLAC in 2001. Galayda describes SLAC’s interest in building a next-generation Linear Collider. He explains some of the major research questions that propelled the LCLS and he describes the recruitment process that led to his current work at PPPL. In the last portion of the interview, Galayda surmises on the future of plasma physics and he emphasizes the importance of working with good people.
H. Frederick Dylla discusses topics such as: ruby laser; Bell Laboratories; RCA Engineering Research Center, Canton, New Jersey; Edgerton, Germeshausen, and Grier, Inc. (EG&G); Harold Edgerton; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); Franklin Instiutte; Richard Feynman; Mark Zemansky; Princeton University; John King; molecular beams; atomic clocks; bachelors work on acoustics; masters research on low temperature physics; doctoral research on surface physics; Ted Madey; John Yates; Jim Murday; Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory; tokamaks; Sandia National Laboratories; Ray Weiss; Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO); benefits of professional societies; Manfred Kaminsky; Argonne National Laboratory; AVS; Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology; National Bureau of Standards (NBS); National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST); Paul Redhead; National Research Council (NRC), Canada; Dennis Manos; College of William and Mary; John Coburn; Harold Winters; Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF); Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA); George Neil; Jefferson Laboratory; free electron lasers; Star Wars program; electron beam accelerator; linear accelerator (LINAC); Rey Whetten; American Institute of Physics.